The wireless speaker segment is a particularly interesting one, thanks to the wide range of products available at various prices. Although a lot of the available options are budget products that are portable enough to toss into your bag and take with you wherever you go, there’s also a growing segment for products that can serve as your home audio system. One such product is the Harman Kardon Go + Play Mini. Also Read - Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 Bluetooth Speaker with transparent 100W subwoofer launched in India
Priced at Rs 29,990, the Harman Kardon Go + Play Mini isn’t quite as portable as many of the more affordable options around, considering its size. It does have a battery that allows for its use off a power connection, but it’s meant to be used at home as an easy and wireless solution for your home audio needs, thanks to Bluetooth connectivity. With four individual drivers, it’s also incredibly loud. Find out how it fares in our review. Also Read - Nokia 5310 Review: A heavy bet on XpressMusic nostalgia
Harman Kardon Go + Play Mini Design and Specifications
The Harman Kardon Go + Play Mini goes with the typical minimal styling that Harman Kardon has stuck to through the years. This includes the use of black as the dominant color, with a design that I’m thoroughly impressed with. What I like the most about it is the fabric wrap around the body of the speaker, which covers the speaker drivers and maintains the solid and minimal look. There’s also a steel handle running above the speaker that makes it easy to lift and carry around, but also gives the speaker a unique look in itself. The Go + Play Mini sits on four feet that keep the body of the speaker a few millimeters off the ground. This ensures minimal reverberations and stability despite the loud volume. Also Read - Harman Kardon Citation Series home speakers launched in India: Prices, features
The top of the speaker has a rubberized finish that has the controls. From here, you can control the power, Bluetooth pairing, play/pause, and volume. There’s also an LED indicator with five lights showing the battery level of the speaker, and some of the buttons are illuminated as well. The speaker is fairly heavy though, and you’re likely to use it at a fixed point in your home most of the time rather than take it around with you. Unfortunately, the Go + Play Mini does not come with a remote, which is a disappointment considering the price of the speaker.
The Harman Kardon Go + Play Mini has four distinct speaker drivers, with two woofers, and two tweeters to effectively cover the sonic range. All of the drivers are rated for 25W of power, allowing for a massive 100W output from the speaker. The frequency response ranges from 50-20,000Hz, and connectivity is through Bluetooth and auxiliary cable. We also used the speaker as a video conferencing system, and it was loud, clear and capable as one.
The speaker has a large 22.2Wh battery, with a promise of eight hours of battery life on a full charge when playing music. You can also use the speaker to reverse-charge other devices using the USB port at the back. Despite the size, the battery life is low primarily because of the amount of power needed to drive the speaker and push out its high volume. Power for the speaker is delivered by a large power brick, which charges the speaker quickly but also takes up a lot of space. However, for all intents and purposes, this is to be considered a home speaker first and a wireless speaker later, and is thus designed as such.
Harman Kardon Go + Play Mini Performance
I tested the Harman Kardon Go + Play Mini using my OnePlus 3 as a source device, primarily connected over Bluetooth. Focus tracks for the review were The Weeknd’s Can’t Feel My Face, Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic, Kanye West’s All Of The Lights and SOHN’s Bloodflows.
Starting with Can’t Feel My Face, the first thing that hit me is the absolute power on offer. The Go + Play is loud like nothing else its size. At the highest volume level, the sound is room-filling to say the least, although I’m fairly certain my next-door neighbors could also hear what I was listening to clearly. What’s more obvious is that the sound is clearly geared towards promoting the bass. With 24K Magic, the initial vocals sounded decent and while the speaker does its bit to keep vocals relevant, the real character of the speaker starts with the thump.
The sonic signature is, without a doubt, bass heavy. This was particularly audible when I noticed that the high-end tends to taper off, thereby allowing the mids and lows to resonate louder. However, despite the actual intensity of the bass attack, the sound remains somewhat clean and listenable. Naturally, this kind of sonic signature will appeal to a lot of people, particularly if you listen to a lot of electronic music.
Moving on to hip-hop with All Of The Lights, we turned the volume all the way up. This did as we expected and cause the sound to come off as jumbled up and all over the place. Reducing the volume to about 80 percent kept it suitably loud, but brought the sound back to reasonable and listenable levels. However, some of the intricate parts of the track where multiple artists have provided vocals could barely be heard over the thump of the bass. Essentially, you should be prepared to lose out on some details in exchange for this fantastic level of aggression.
With Bloodflows, a track that is known for its nuances and beautiful melody, we finally found the bass to be excessive. It tends to overpower the finer detail in the track, including the vocals and the detail. The problem here is the lack of subtlety in the bass; the Harman Kardon Go + Play Mini is all about attack, with no actual control or level of measure to the aggression. This makes it ill-suited to gentler or more detailed tracks, thanks to the issues posed by the excess in the low-end.
At just a few rupees short of Rs 30,000, the Harman Kardon Go + Play Mini had it tough from the word Go (pun intended). It’s not easy to justify this kind of price for a speaker system, and indeed we do feel that the Go + Play Mini is a bit overpriced. However, if you want it loud and simple, there’s very little else that you can look at. Perhaps the Marshall Stanmore is worth considering with its better looks and legacy, but the Harman Kardon manages to power through with its loud sound and aggressive attack.
The speaker is not without its faults; there is no remote, and the sound tends to lack detail not because of a fault in the speaker itself, but because of its tendency to push excessive bass at the cost of all other sonic elements. Nonetheless, this is a loud, powerful speaker that works well at home as a simple wireless audio system, provided you like your music bass-heavy. If you prefer detail, this isn’t the right speaker for you.